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17 Meaningful Anime Plot Twists That Genuinely Surprised Us

Updated December 9, 2020 36.2k votes 8.7k voters 237.6k views17 items

List RulesVote up the plot twists that you can't stop thinking about.

Even if you think you know all the tropes, a particularly clever anime can still hit you with a plot twist that you just did not see coming. Sometimes, you look back on a show and realize that the big twist was hinted at, but other times there's no way you could have possibly predicted what the show had in store.

While anime plot twists can be both infuriating and satisfying, they always make a show more interesting. Twists commonly involve a single character or group, but occasionally, a good series will drop in a massive twist that changes everything about the plot. When viewers find out that Assassination Classroom's Koro-Sensei never planned to destroy the Earth, the whole premise of the show suddenly changes. Even if you hated a particular plot twist, it's hard to stop thinking about them once they've dropped. 

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  • While today's Naruto fans are comfortably aware of the whole "Itachi is actually a good guy" thing, when the news first dropped, it was utterly shocking. 

    At the beginning of the series, Sasuke swears to take revenge on his older brother, who he believes is responsible for slaughtering their entire clan. While Itachi actually did do this, he didn't have a choice in the matter. When Itachi was 13, Danzo — a power-hungry Konoha official who secretly wanted to harvest the Uchiha clan's powerful eyes for his own use — approached him with a choice. Itachi could kill his own clan, sparing the life of himself and his brother, or the city would kill them all.

    While some argue that Itachi had a third choice (warning his family and getting them out of there), that would have undoubtedly sparked another war. Itachi was already traumatized from years of warfare, and felt that killing his family was the only way to protect his community. Tragically, Sasuke doesn't learn the truth until after he exacts his vengeance and kills his brother. 

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  • Attack on Titan drops plot twists from the very start, but the biggest plot twist of all comes when Reiner and Bertholdt — members of the Survey Corps, a group dedicated to destroying Titans — straight up admit to being the Colossal Titan and the Armored Titan. These Titans are horrifying, man-eating monsters who helped kill thousands of humans, including the main character's mother. 

    What left a lot of viewers particularly shook was the understated way in which this information is revealed. Reiner simply tells Eren the truth with no warning or buildup. 

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  • While character death doesn't automatically constitute a plot twist, L's death in Death Note is definitely unexpected. Although Light Yagami had been attempting to kill L since the beginning of the series, few people expected him to succeed, and even fewer expected that he would do so 12 episodes prior to the end of the story. Even more surprising is that, as he lays dying, L expresses genuine emotional depth; that's a twist in its own right.

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  • Photo: The Promised Neverland / CloverWorks

    As if the plot twist about Ray being Isabella's spy wasn't surprising enough, the series drops a huge bomb in the season 1 finale. During Isabella's flashback montage, it is revealed that Ray is actually Isabella's biological son. In order to survive for as long as she could, Isabella trained to be a "Mama." She even gave birth to a child so that the demons could raise it as livestock for their farms. And of course, that child ended up being Ray.

    She only discovers this horrifying truth years later when she hears Ray humming the lullaby she used to sing while pregnant with him. And Ray knew this whole time since he has memories from the womb. In a tragic twist of fate, Isabella was forced to raise her own son for slaughter. This revelation complicates Ray and Isabella's relationship even more. And we begin to see Isabella as a tragic antagonist.

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